Me And My Car

Working for a sports car

Engineering student Nicholas Lam moonlights as a property agent to buy his dream BMW Z4

Mr Nicholas Lam bought his BMW Z4 and has been hooked on topless driving since.
Mr Nicholas Lam bought his BMW Z4 and has been hooked on topless driving since.PHOTO: AMRIT MIRCHANDANI CHANGAROTH
Mr Nicholas Lam bought his BMW Z4 and has been hooked on topless driving since.

The BMW Z4 was introduced in 2002 to succeed the somewhat lacklustre Z3.

At the time, it was the only two-seater BMW convertible sold in Singapore. Low-slung, sleek and with a nifty motorised retractable roof, the car captivated many.

Mechanical engineering undergraduate Nicholas Lam was among those bowled over. After looking around used-car dealerships, he came across a four-year-old deep blue Z4 advertised on online motoring portal sgCarMart.

He remembers that it was in "very good condition both inside and out". A test-drive showed that the engine was well maintained too.

The 24-year-old, in his final year at National University of Singapore, says: "I fell in love with the way the car looks. I absolutely love the long bonnet and the low-slung, close-to- the-road seating."

Since taking ownership of the car in 2014, "Lampy", as he is affectionately called by his friends, has had no regrets.

"I have always loved convertibles and the idea of driving with the top down is immensely refreshing, especially after a hard day of work at school," he says.

If you think Mr Lam is a rich kid whose parents paid for the car, you are wrong. He worked for it. He is a part-time real estate agent with ERA.

A few sales and tenancy agreements reaped in a decent amount of money, he says. Enough to indulge in a BMW roadster.

He continues to perform well in school, so he says he is likely to continue juggling the two roles in his final year. Besides, he says he has a passion for business.

His Z4 is a pre-facelift model and comes with a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre engine straight-six making 204bhp. It was made at a time when the world was less conscious about carbon footprint.

These six-cylinder engines from BMW have always been known to rev freely. Still the smoothest six-cylinders made today, they also sound the part.

"The Z4 is not just about looks and sex appeal," Mr Lam notes. "It is a joy to drive. It is engaging and responsive."

He adds that the car has "pinpoint steering that keeps me constantly in tune with the drive, whether quick or leisurely".

"It had 43,000km on it when I bought it and, since then, I have driven more than 25,000km," he says, adding that he has not done any modification as it is performing well as it is.

He intends to keep it till its certificate of entitlement (COE) runs out. And because the car has proven to be "impeccably reliable", he may extend the COE when the time comes.

"There have been no issues," he says. "Apart from regular servicing, it has never needed to be taken to the workshop."

Revalidating the COE will depend on two factors - the premium at that point in time and if he continues to do well in real estate.

"My priority now is to complete my degree and start a career in engineering while doing real estate on the side," he says.

"If I decide not to renew the COE, then I will get myself another convertible - even if it is not a roadster."

• The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline 'MeAndMyCar Working for a sports car'. Print Edition | Subscribe